Sticks and Stones (Original)
When I lied, I called it my relaxation. When I was honest, I admitted it was a way to hide from the world for a little while. A day, a night, a weekend, sometimes whole weeks. I would throw my gear into my pack and go bush.
It was good to leave the world behind and just be by myself for a little while. Then I found the first statue. It was tucked just off the track, half-hidden behind a frond of an ancient fern. I crouched there for ages, fingers delicately stroking the rough baked face. Once I found one, it became easier to find others, hiding behind bushes, peering down at the track from the crooks of trees. It became a kind of game, trying to guess where the next clay figure would appear.
And somewhere along the way, my treks became less about leaving something behind and more about finding something.
I spent my twenty-first birthday in the back paddock, crying my eyes out as I nursed the puncture marks that now littered my body. It wasn’t fair, I yelled and screamed. It wasn’t fair that I was a freak, a weirdo, a Power. My life was over, I was never going to escape this farm, this world. I would never achieve my dreams. The trees bent and swayed on the horizon.
I spent my twenty-second birthday in the city, studying at the Conservatory even as the doctors studied me. I would always ask for morning appointments so afterwards I could run to the wood-panelled halls and sunlit rooms to loose myself in the music. The summer breezes gave way to winter storms that pulled at my hair and numbed my face.
I spent my twenty-third birthday dancing across the wooden floorboards of the village hall. The band played old songs as I clung to the worn fabric of his jacket, laughing as we spun around the room. He kissed me under the rustling leaves of the evergreen my father planted the day I was born.
I spent my twenty-fourth birthday trying not to care that I had been denied a real passport to take on my own honeymoon. The papers and documentation I needed to complete to travel anywhere were in a pile on the table, weighted down with an empty glass. I would finish filling them in after the thunder went away.
I spent my twenty-fifth birthday walking hand in hand with my husband along the fence lines of our new farm. We climbed the last hill slowly, hand-in-hand, taking our time. At the top, we looked back across the green valley. He spooned up behind me, and spread his hand across my swollen belly as he kissed my neck. “Do you regret it? Coming back here, for me?” he asked. I smiled and shook my head as the clouds broke to allow a single ray of sunshine to pass.
I spent my twenty-sixth birthday in the fields with our daughter. She toddled and laughed and burbled to herself as I basked in the sunshine. Finally, she began to slow, her eyes growing heavy. I scooped her up and began to sing a lullaby as we headed for home. And across the ridge the winds curled and twisted through the trees, shaking the leaves so it sounded like the ovations that I heard in my childhood dreams. I kissed my daughter’s forehead and smiled.
The paint swirls across the canvas, angry strokes of blood red and sunset orange. The brush flicks and hisses to itself as it is dragged in arcs and curves. She steps back, wipes her cheek with the back of her hand, and studies the effect.
She’s not a lawyer, or a doctor, or an executive. She may live simply, without the trappings of modern success. They may look down their noses at her bare apartment and her bohemian neighbours. She may not have much, but she has this.
Truth. Beauty. Freedom. She smiles and signs the canvas. It may not be much, but it’s all she ever truly wanted.
Put Away Childish Things (Enterprise)
He was the leader, the hero, the stoic figure in the history books. He carried his fathers’ legacy, but never spoke of his father. He never spoke of a lot of things. At least, he never spoke of them to me.
I remember the time he built me a swing, or the times he rocked me to sleep after a nightmare. I have a lot of memories of my father taking care of me when I was younger. But as I grew up, I also grew away from him. In the end, we saw each other only out of a sense of duty. Or at least it felt that way at the time. After all, we were all each other had left.
The last time I saw father, I was struck by our differences. He was so old, I felt so young. He seemed so tired of his life, I was impatient to start mine. I kissed his cheek, picked up my bag, and walked out without looking back.
His aide found me walking a beach in the Pacific and flew me home in a shuttle. But by the time we arrived, he was the dearly departed.
The night before his funeral, I unpacked my travel bag and found the card I had bought for him. It showed a beautiful sunset. I thought it might have cheered him up. Now it just seemed obscene. The black pen obscured the light.
At the funeral, I listened to the kind words, nodded, smiled, did all the expected things. At his graveside, I waited til the other mourners had left, then gave my father his card. The wet earth thumped onto his coffin. It seemed an ignoble end for a man who had spent his life reaching for the stars.
I closed my eyes, turned, and left to continue my fathers’ legacy.
Urban Guerrilla Beatnik (Original)
Sometimes, it’s an old classic
Coleridge, Auden, Keats
Sometimes it’s something newer
Something that’s a little more upbeat
Sometimes I write it in pencil
Grey marks smudging the lines
Sometime’s I write with a quill
Green ink is so refined
Sometimes it’s text specific
An appropriate ditty or two
Sometimes it’s something more random
An elegy or something more lewd
Sometimes it’s very traditional
In four line pentameter
Sometimes it’s something more edgy
That doesn’t rhyme or scan or nothing!
Sometimes I do it for pleasure
Mine and the readers’ alike
But mostly I do it because I suspect
That poetry is a dying art.
Keyboard Outlaw (Original)
The freeway blurs under my scuffed boots as the beast between my thighs throbs and purrs. The wind whips at my face, tangling in my long, unkempt hair as I roar down the deserted road. The sky is clear and the air smells of grass and dust and fuel as I hold the needle steady at 70.
There is no one for miles. I have no idea where this road goes, and I don’t really care. There’s nothing waiting for me where I came from, and nothing else to do except follow where the mood takes me.
The annoying chime beeps again. I blink, and look at my screen. That fucking dancing paperclip is back, asking me if I’d like to save my work. I look around my cubicle hell, grab the motorcycle magazine out of my desk drawer, and head off for lunch before someone else tells me what to do.
Synthetic Living (Empire Records Powerverse)
Joe’s got his concerned face on again. Of course, that could just be because he found his first grey pubic hair this morning. And believe me, that was one mental image I could have done without. There are certain things about your boss you just do not want to know.
“You sure you’re okay.”
I grin. I can feel him teetering on the edge of buying it. He just needed that push. “Positive. It was just a little side effect.” I shrug, switching from ‘punk kid’ to ‘Power martyr’ in one smooth motion “They told me it might happen from time to time, even once they smoothed out the dosage. It’s cool, Joe, really.”
He buys it. I can feel the change come over him. “Okay, if you say so.”
“I say so.”
He grins. “Then get your sorry ass back to work. And put your damn nametag on!”
I scamper before he can change his mind again. With the clinic nurses, I just project ‘fine’ at them until they sign my sheet and let me go. But Joe’s an empath – no where near as strong as me, but he can tell when I’m fucking with people’s thoughts. Joe’s not just the coolest boss I’ve had, he’s the only boss I’ve ever had. Something about ‘telepath’ on the registration card seems to make people edgy about hiring you. So I can’t ask him to lie if the clinic comes a-calling to check up on me.
And I can’t have the clinic knowing that I’ve become resistant to the meds. I grab my staff badge and head out to the tills to start my shift. It’s getting easier to ignore the thoughts of the dozen or so customers wandering through the store. That may have something to do with the fact that it no longer feels like my head is full of cotton wool. Everything has become clearer since the pills stopped working, not just my telepathy.
I grin at Susie as I relieve her from the tills. Her smile is bland, but in her mind she’s checking me out.
Oh yeah. There is no way I’m going back on the meds.
The History Room (Highlander)
It started sometime in the 1800s, I don’t remember exactly when. I do remember how. A ball, sweeping gowns a hand painted masks. A young lady, smiling as she danced with me. Her chaperone glowering at us behind his mask. She pressed the silk handkerchief into my hands before he whisked her away in his carriage, never to be seen again.
They are my mementoes, a physical record of my past, of the lives I have touched and the lives that have touched me. A Shirley Bassey record. The crystal top of a scent bottle. A beer mat with a five digit telephone number scrawled onto the back. Little things that no one really misses.
I keep them locked safely in this room, away from prying eyes. They are more than just trinkets to me. They are a way of keeping my memories safe.
Their presence reminds me of who I am.
Unbalanced Equation (SG: Atlantis)
Elizabeth has talked them into saying yes. We’re going to go and find Atlantis.
Even as I say it, I want to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. The mythical city of Atlantis, and we’re going to search for it using an alien glowlamp from Antarctica and a giant doughnut buried beneath a mountain. But it’s not a joke. It’s a fact, and they’re assembling the best and brightest on the planet to go. And she asked me first. She. Asked. Me. First. Of course, I am the smartest man on the planet. She’d be a fool not to ask me. And of course I’d say yes. I am the smartest man on the planet. I’d be a fool not to. But somehow, in all the planning and thinking about crossing galaxies, I never thought about this moment.
It’s not the farewells that are difficult. What hurts is how few of them I have to make. I sent my sister a short email. I went and had a last coffee at the deli on the corner where they know how I like my sandwiches done. And I handed my cat over to my neighbour – but that probably doesn’t count as she was too busy cooing over the furball to say more than a ‘yeah, seeya.’
I don’t make friends easy. People are intimidated by my intelligence. And I’m okay with that, I really am. After all, it’s my brains that got me on the team (and also got me sent to Siberia, but that’s another story).
But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I wasn’t so brilliant.
When you’re sitting alone in a packed up flat, scared out of your mind of what tomorrow will bring? Those are the times when trading a dozen IQ points for a single friend to call doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.
First Cut Is The Deepest (Mr and Mrs Smith)
Some days, it’s hard to remember how this all started. I mean, it’s not exactly if you can go to your high school guidance councillor and ask what the job prospects are for ‘hired assassin.’ And where does it start anyway? Your first kill? No, any punk with a gun can kill and kill again.
Some guy once said it starts with the plan. The conscious decision to end someone’s life. The first time you complete that plan, from concept to execution (pun intended), is when you can call yourself an assassin.
Unfortunately, I had one little problem with this definition. When I was eight years old, I planned to kill my mother. Now, I never went through with it – mainly because it was too hard for a grade schooler to get his hands on arsenic and a revolver. But I had a plan, detailed in every way. I even knew where I was going to hide the body.
Now, this might not mean much. It may just show that I was a callous shit from a young age. But sometimes I wonder if I got started on this life all because I planned to kill my mother.
Bethany stopped going to church. It seemed kind of pointless to listen to the priest talk about salvation and eternal damnation when she knew God was type of woman to pick flowers and wear a white fluffy skirt in a garden. Besides, she was busy. She had a new job, a new apartment, and a beautiful new baby. She focused in on these things, took joy in her achievements, made time for the little things.
But sometimes, late at night, she’d lie in bed, in the dark, and let her hands creep under the hem of her sensible nightshirt. She’d trail her fingertips across the smooth skin there, and imagine the scars she should have. Later, she would sleep and dream of a darkhaired woman with eternal eyes stroking her belly. She would always wake before dawn and rise to cuddle her baby.
But even then she missed being close to her God.
Outside Looking In (Dr Who)
It’s as far removed from the council estates as Rose could get. The dilapidated old stone cottage with its rambling garden full of her flowers was alone at the end of the village lane. Some days, the local children dared each other to run through her garden. They told each other she was a witch. Their parents just whispered behind their hands as she walked past. Weird. Strange. Deranged. But mostly harmless.
She wore her knowing half-smile like armour. She layered her clothes so that no one piece ever stood out. Everything looked odd, so no one noticed that the fabric of her shirt was not of this earth, that the skirt was of a cut that went out of style a hundred years ago. She rarely spoke to anyone, and spent most of her time in her home. She quietly but firmly rebuffed any extensions of friendship from the villagers. Soon enough, they understood and let her be.
On a summers’ night, Rose stood in her garden and listened to the children yell and run, enjoying the balmy weather. She could see her neighbours moving around, standing in the street, talking and gossiping. Once apon a time, a lifetime ago, she would have been in the thick of it. But not now.
She had been to the end of the world and the beginning of time. She had dined with a sentient tree and danced with a grinning alien. She had seen so many marvels, gained so much. But along the way, she had lost the ability to fit in. She no longer did domestic. So she just bided her time.
She had all the time in the world.
Exit Wounds (Blade Trinity)
Five years. During it felt like five centuries. After it felt like a nightmare. Before – he can barely remember what life was like before the vampires claimed him and burnt their marks on his flesh.
Before, he thinks, there were parents. Maybe a sister? A pretty blonde sometimes smiles at him in his dreams. The images pass before his mind like a projection – bereft of sound or feeling. The images of a trip – they wave goodbye. They’re smiling, like they are happy for him.
Cities are his natural haunt now, high places and dark corners. But in the echoes of his memories is a feeling that once it wasn’t like that. He thinks that the first time he crossed the bridge into New York he gaped like the tourists he now mocks.
The first time he rode the elevators up to the sixtieth floor, he had swayed from the vertigo. That memory had returned as he had climbed a shaft to escape a Familiar with a gun. It had amused him for a moment before the shooting once again drove the memory back into his subconscious.
He had watched his old workplace crumble on an old black and white set. He hadn’t felt anything. That bitch Danica had already buried her fangs too deep for him to care much about anything at all.
Now, he sometimes sits on the roof of some tower and lets the memories play. But he knows that his past is locked off from him now. Everyone who knew him would have seen the towers fall. To them, he was a dead man, gone and buried.
Hannibal King smiled coldly as he chambered a round. A dead man fighting the undead. There was a kind of symmetry to that.
He kicked open the door and started firing.